Bad SIM City

July 26, 2008

The move from a white 16G iPhone 3G to a black model is now complete.  Like so many others, I checked iPhone availability  just after 9p Saturday – Monday night and the Lenox Mall Apple store in Atlanta thrillingly showed all 3 models in stock by Monday night.  Knowing they open for iPhone buyers at 8a, I set the alarm for 5a (not early enough I would discover), and managed to rise on the 7th snooze, so I didn’t make it out of the house until 630a, stupidly minus coffee.  

A 15 minute ride to Lenox later, I was wandering around the ghost town of a mall only to discover nearly 50 people already occupying a coveted spot in line.  Now I had been assured by someone at this store over the phone that I would not be required to stand in line to exchange white for black, but I wasn’t sure when they would actually let me in the store, so I figured I’d better take spot 51 and take nothing for granted.  If all 16G blacks were gone by the time they dealt with me, then I’d be back to square one.  (FYI, the Starbucks within spitting distance of the Apple store at Lenox doesn’t open until 730a, so bring some coffee with you if you intend to become a member of one of these early morning iPhone lust lines).  Just after 7a, the manager came out to brief us on how things would go down and reorganized the haphazardly formed line, and as I walked past him, I asked what my options were and what a relief it was to hear him confirm I would be able to essentially jump to the front of the line at 8a when they opened! Still in giddy disbelief that I could skip the misery of the line, I hesitated a bit before leaving it, and plopped down at a Starbucks table so as to soon rectify my caffeine withdrawal.  

An hour later a small army of Apple employees, Symbol POS devices drawn, looked ready to do battle with the iPhone craving horde, now 100 strong (at freaking 8a on the 2nd Tuesday after launch!)  I actually didn’t get in until the first wave of iPhone lineups preceded me, but was immediately handed off to someone who proceeded to deactivate the sim card in my white, and then activate a new sim in my new black.  30 minutes later we walked over to a 24 inch iMac and connected the black to iTunes for final activation.  No issues, and a second Starbucks purchase later, I’m on the highway to work, Tilt now useless, iPhone waiting for setup fondling.
I hardly noticed throughout the day I had no 3G or even E symbol.  I chalked it up to either slow network provisioning or the need to connect to iTunes and fully register it (which is stupid because an activated sim has been an activated sim on every other GSM phone I’ve ever used). Post registration and first sync to iTunes that night, still had no data connection (wifi working fine though).  
Called AT&T the next morning from work and they said it was an Apple problem, routed me to Apple, and their automated troubleshooter system didn’t like one of my answers and promptly routed me back to AT&T.  The next AT&T person I talk to thinks if I try the sim in another device I should know one way or the other if it is an activation or a sim issue.  Kicking myself for not thinking of this before I wasted this time on the phone, I rush home for lunch to test the sim in the Tilt. No data connectivity on the Tilt either, so after work I wait in the AT&T store for 30 minutes to explain my saga to CS rep.  Two more failed sim cards later we finally find one that provisions properly on their network immediately?  The manager of the store looked at me incredulously and with a bit of aggravation in his brow exclaimed they were seeing this happen with one out of every half dozen or so iPhones and they had no clue what was going on, implying that it had something to due with Apple’s activation scheme, instead of a true bad batch of sim cards I think?  
After the mess on launch day, I’m inclined to believe him quite honestly, and though I’m now thrilled with the device, I’ll likely fully unlock it as soon as I safely can, just on principle!

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